Mayor Thadeus Chimombe told Radio VOP: “UNICEF has indicated that it will stop supplying us with chemicals beginning this year. We are however still trying to negotiate with them so that they can once again continue assisting us with water treatment chemicals.”
The council’s director of finance Edgar Mwedzi said the city needed US$ 529 120 a month to procure water chemicals. The council said it is unable to afford it since the bulk of all its revenues go towards payment of wages and salaries.
UNICEF started supplying all councils with chemicals to purify water in 2008 when Zimbabwe suffered its worst cholera outbreak. UNICEF wrote to councils that it would stop supplying the chemicals on December 31, 2010 as it had achieved its objective of helping to end the cholera epidemic. Negotiations between UNICEF and association of councils in Zimbabwe are in progress and a meeting is due to be held in Harare soon.
“We have indicated to UNICEF that if they abandon us now, we are likely to plunge into the cholera era again. The council is struggling and it is highly likely that without UNICEF we can provide clean water.”
The council has constantly failed to provide water to its residents due to old pipes and water pumps. Gweru’s major water source, Gwenoro dam, has two out of six pumps working. The city’s engineer Jones Nanthambwe said the pumps needed to be replaced with new ones as they had outlived their life span.